Who is the “man of sin” spoken of by the Apostle Paul? Is he a charismatic religious leader or a coming world political figure who will soon appear in world affairs?
The Bible has been subject to much analysis and speculation, and by consequence a number of misconceived ideas have been created about biblical prophecy, which may mean that one of the greatest deceptions of the future will prove to be how a “man of sin” will be revealed to the world before the return of Jesus.
Thus the Apostle Paul warned of world-changing events—an apostasy—that would allow such an individual to come to political prominence in future world affairs. And given the current state of the geopolitical world, Paul’s warning would imply a dramatic shift in the current configuration of world power that exists today (II Thes. 2:3, 6, 8).
Now, it is difficult—to say the least—to imagine that any one individual could rise to such a level of political influence and power—creating a global conflict—in our time, given that there are many political and military deterrents, as well as democratic and cultural institutions, that exist among the leading world powers today.
But such is the nature of Paul’s warning.
That a “man of sin”—a “son of perdition”—will rise to significant political influence in the world before the return of Christ. Which is a warning that was long ago a part of the messages recorded by the prophets of God.
Notably then we can see this by simply examining the typology of this “man of sin” in the context of what was written by the prophets about a man of “fierce countenance” who will appear to understand “dark sentences,” and who will create much destruction before the return of Christ (Ezk. 28:3; Dan. 8:23-27). And we begin by comparing the writings of Isaiah with the writings of the Apostle Paul, noting in particular that Isaiah wrote about the “son of the morning” in regard to a king of Babylon, and Paul wrote about a “son of perdition” whose “power shall be mighty, but not by his own power,” who will come to political prominence, leading to a time of trouble that will eventually bring many nations to focus on the Middle East and the city of Jerusalem. [Author’s emphasis throughout.]
Then we read in Isaiah that a king of Babylon will say in his heart: “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God,” and comparatively we read in a letter sent to the church at Thessaloniki that a “man of sin” will: “opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped.” With Isaiah further stating that this Babylonian king will determine to: “sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north,” and to “ascend above the heights of the clouds” to be like “the most High,” while Paul wrote that the man of sin will attempt to exalt himself “above all that is called God,” and think to sit “in the temple of God” and to think to himself “that he is God” (Isa. 14:12-14; II Thes. 2:3-4).
Which brings us to make an observation.
That Isaiah is speaking of Lucifer, who is understood to be Satan, but this description of the nature and thinking of Satan is associated with a particular individual who is a ruler of Babylon. Whereas Paul is referring to a coming world leader, a “man of sin,” whose typology is a reflection of this king of Babylon, and by association a reflection of the nature and thinking of Satan (Isa. 14:3-4, 16).
Therefore we may conclude that Isaiah is describing a king of Babylon in inseparable terms when he addresses the nature and thinking of Satan, and the Apostle Paul speaks of a coming “son of perdition” who will reflect a way of thinking that also expresses the same nature and thinking of Satan (Eph. 2:2-3). And this same nature and way of thinking is also expressed in the typology of another world leader called the “prince of Tyrus,” of whom Ezekiel wrote: “because thine heart is lifted up, and thou hast said, I am a God, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas; yet thou art a man, and not God, though thou set thine heart as the heart of God” (Ezk. 28:2).
Allowing us then to summarize that both Isaiah and Ezekiel are speaking in the context of historical political characters as they describe the nature and thinking of Satan, as if these individuals actually were Satan the devil. And by examining the nature and character of these political figures we see that a typology is formed and brought forward by the Apostle Paul who addresses the issues surrounding a “man of sin” who will also express the same nature and thinking of Satan.
Implying then that they are speaking of one and the same person who has yet to appear on the world stage, whose coming “is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders” (II Thes. 2:9).
But there is more to be learned from the prophets.
By examining the typology of a king of Babylon, and a prince of Tyrus, and a “man of sin,” whose typology was brought forward by the Apostle Paul, we find yet another parallel in the writings of the prophet Daniel. For Daniel wrote about a coming “king of the north” who will: “exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished… and he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain” (Dan. 11:36, 45).
Which brings us to examine still another individual who expresses a way of thinking that also parallels a king of Babylon, and a prince of Tyrus, and a king of the north, and a son of perdition, in a way that also reflects the nature and way of thinking that would describe Satan himself.
This individual was described by the Apostle John as a “beast” who is depicted in John’s vision as having “two horns like a lamb,” who as a political leader will give voice to a political and military power that supports him, being a “beast” who speaks “as a dragon,” saying: “great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations” (Rev. 13:5-7; 11-12).
Which brings us to consider this.
That a “king of Babylon,” and a “prince of Tyrus,” and a “king of the north,” and an individual symbolically called the “beast” are summed in Paul’s description of a coming “man of sin” who is understood to be directly influenced by the presence of Satan.
But given the generality of the prophet’s descriptions regarding these historical characters, we may reasonably conclude that the prophets and the apostles are all speaking about one and the same individual, and the appearance of this “man of sin” may seem to deceptively project a form of righteousness, but in reality he is empowered and influenced by the literal presence of Satan. (The names and identities of this king of Babylon, and this prince of Tyrus, and this king of the north are not given by the prophets or the apostles.)
Implying then that such descriptive titles regarding a “king of Babylon,” and a “prince of Tyrus,” and a “son of perdition,” and a “king of the north,” and a “beast,” all have a literal application to Satan himself, which may further imply that the “abomination that maketh desolate” is the one known as Satan, whose power and influence will be manifest in a coming man of sin at some time in the future (Rev. 9:11; 12:12).